Common Interview Questions – Are you prepared?



You should prepare well for any interview situation but these days researching the company and understanding the role is definitely not enough. Interviews can take many different forms but much emphasis is now placed on how you answer certain questions. Familiarize yourself with the most commonly asked ones and prepare some well thought through answers.

You may ask why? Consider this scenario:  You are feeling confident the interview has gone well so far, you have been given the opportunity to provide good examples of how your skills and experience would be of benefit to the company and then….you get asked a challenging question that you were not expecting! What do you do? Hesitate and become tongue tied or, like most people, blurt out whatever words come to mind first which you later realize didn’t make much sense or perhaps didn’t reflect you in the correct light?

Interviews have become ever more sophisticated and the inclusion of specific questions is designed to test you on all sorts of levels. Here is a list of the ten most common interview questions that you could be asked and suggestions on how best to respond. Some you may be familiar with, some not, but do you have well prepared answers for them?

 

Tell Me About Yourself?

This is typically the first question you will be asked once you’ve taken your seat and the interview formally starts. This is the opportunity for the interviewer to assess you as a person, both through what you say and your delivery. Remember, their first impression of you is of the utmost importance, so make sure you can answer it in a confident way – after all you know you better than anyone right? Keep it short and succinct, preferably no longer than 2 – 3 minutes.

So what should your reply cover?  Make sure you have done your research on what the company expects from the successful applicant, so include information on your qualifications, personality and work experience (making sure they are kept relevant to the position in question). And avoid going into detail about personal life, family etc. at this early stage.

 

What Are Your Weaknesses?

This seems tricky as, on one hand you want to give a favourable view of your personality and ability to do the job, while on the other, you don’t want to claim you have no weaknesses. There are several ways to answer double-edged questions like this.

So what should you disclose then? If you have thoroughly gone through the company’s profile and the job advert and description (make sure you have access to this prior to the interview), you will know the qualities the job requires, what are considered strengths and what are not.

With this knowledge you know what will be considered a weakness by the interviewer, so you can admit to those which you have that are irrelevant to the job in question. Whatever weaknesses you state, make sure your answer is a positive one by making sure you have examples of how you have overcome them in past roles.

 

What Is Your Greatest Achievement?

Although the interviewer is asking you about your greatest achievement, you still have to choose one that is of most relevance professionally rather than personally. This is a good opportunity to highlight how you can contribute to the company if you are successfully recruited, so focus on an achievement that applies to the position. For example, if the role requires a significant amount of problem solving and troubleshooting, you might want to recount how you resolved a persistent problem that had plagued your company for years. Explain clearly and simply the challenge, solution and outcome and wherever possible, always quantify your results in terms of savings made and increased productivity.

 

What Would You Like To Be Doing Five Years From Now?

This question is included to find out whether you are committed to the job and to ascertain if you are somebody who sets goals in life. It’s an undisputable fact that people who set mid and long term goals are more reliable than those who don’t.  Knowing what you want in life says a lot about your personality, for example as a person who can lead and stay motivated.

 

Your answer should assure the interviewer that your career progression goals are in line with the actual future plans for the company. As such, it is crucial that you do your homework on the company’s future plans so that you know what to expect for yourself and whether it will meet your long-term career objectives.

 

Why Do You Want To Work With Us?

This is the question designed to give your interviewer an indication of how much you know about the organization, their culture and whether you can identify with the company’s vision and values. Every business has its strong points; just make sure you focus on these in your answer. For example, if the company emphasizes its integrity with customers, then you should mention that you would like to be in such a team because you yourself believe in integrity in business.

If your values are not in line with those of the company, ask yourself honestly if you would be happy working there. Whatever you do – don’t focus on the package on offer, this will show that you could be someone who will easily move onto another company if the price is right. Make sure your answer focuses on 2 or 3 key points which match with the organization’s ethos.

 

Why Did You Apply For This Position?

Don’t at any point focus on the package on offer! Or for that matter, avoid giving the impression that you have applied purely because you need to make a living.

In fact, the best way to answer this question is to spend some time examining what you like about both the role and the company. It is likely you will find something such as the culture, work environment or role your job will play in the future success of the business.

Once you know why you want this job, you can then prepare a response that will relate to how well you fit with the position. For example, if you like the analysis work involved because you enjoy discovering more about customer behaviors, bring up that inquisitive nature of yours. Convince them that you are can offer the majority if not all the skills and traits they require and above all convince the interviewer that you will be an asset to the company.

 

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Here, the interviewer is trying to gauge how much the job fits to your expectations. You may have quit your last job because you were unhappy about something or you may actually have no opportunity for career progression in your current role. There could be a wide variety of reasons for leaving a job. Whatever your reason is, the interviewer wants to make sure that you will be committed to their role and the business and not leave because your expectations are not met.

But whatever your reason – make sure you put a positive spin on your answer. Never complain about what made you unhappy or make derogatory remarks about colleagues or management – this is a real no, no in interviews. Instead focus on your career goals and how the job you are applying for provides a better environment for growth than your previous or current one. Emphasize what you have learned in your most recent role and the valuable skills you can now offer.

 

Why Should We Hire You?

This is the answer where you link your skills, experience, education and your personality to the job itself. So you must be utterly familiar with the job description as well as the company culture. Always remember to include actual examples of your experience and achievements to date.

 

It is possible that you may not have as much skills, experience or qualifications as the other candidates. So what can you say that will set you apart from the rest? People are attracted to someone who is charismatic, who can show honest enthusiasm and drive and who clearly loves what it is that they do. When you emphasize your compatibility with the job and company, be sure to portray yourself as a motivated, confident and energetic person, who could be a real asset to the team in which they work.

 

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

You should really avoid going into detail on this topic until you are offered the job. However most interviewers can and do ask this question. Salary negotiation is a tough and delicate matter and some may use this question hoping that you will be the first to give a figure and set the benchmark. The repercussions of this are you could get a job offer but not at either the salary you want, or one that is market average right now.

If you have applied via a recruitment consultancy, then discuss this in detail with them prior to the interview. As part of their service they will negotiate the best package possible for you if you are offered the job, which will be in line with the salary range the company is offering.

If you have applied direct, the company may well have advertised a salary range. A good rule of thumb would be to state a figure within that, at what level is your choice.  You should know your market, and if you are offering a rare skill set this means you may well be able to command a salary well above the average in your field – just don’t be greedy!

At other times, this question is designed to let interviewers see if money is the only thing that matters. So, remember to emphasize that your priority lies with the job and not just the pay packet.

 

Do You Have Any Questions?

This is normally the last question you will be asked before the interview ends, so it’s your chance to finish the interview on a real positive. Even if you don’t believe this is the role for you, make sure you have at least 3 prepared questions and ask them. Replying that you’ve got nothing to ask will always leave the impression to the interviewer that you are not really interested in the job.

The interviewer is going to be attracted to proactive candidates who ask intelligent questions. Make sure they aren’t those with obvious answers that you could easily get if you had done your research thoroughly. Instead, try to incorporate your knowledge of the industry and the company into a question that will address a genuine concern of yours. That way, you get to impress your interviewer and assess for a final time whether the job aligns with your expectations.

A good question to ask is what your chances are of landing the job, but make sure to word it in the right way! Thank them taking the time to interview you and express your enthusiasm for the position before asking if there is any reservation for hiring you. This will be your final chance to address any concerns the interviewer might have of employing you. Stay calm and reply objectively rather than taking any criticism personally.

 

Hopefully these tips give you some food for thought in your interview preparation – planning really is worthwhile, answering succinctly to any question posed ensures you will come across as confident, positive, decisive and organized.


Harnham blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our News & Blogs portal or check out our recent posts below.

Leading Remote Teams in the Land of Beer, Barbeque, and Tech

Charlotte, North Carolina known for its beer and barbeque is not the first location to jump to mind when you think digital hub. But here’s the rub, it is. In the Fall of 2019, the city and Microsoft signed a three-year digital alliance. And as the country moved from office locations to work-from-home and remote operations, Charlotte became a prime destination for tech.  Four Skills for Leading in the New Normal Whether you’ve learned to balance work time with virtual schooling or have been working from home for years, there are some skillsets which set leaders apart. The first one may surprise you. Let others lead – According to our most recent salary guide, one of the main reasons people leave their jobs is due to poor management. With the rise of remote working, hierarchy has flattened to a degree as everyone must discipline themselves. Micromanagement becomes almost moot as everyone leans into this learning curve. Lead by example and let others take over the leadership driver’s seat from time-to-time. Balance both Soft and Technical Skills – While technical skills are the backbone of subject matter experience in a Digital Analytics role, it’s the soft skills which can help set you apart. Sure, you’ll want to know the ins and outs of web analytics and optimization, but you’ll also need to have the skills to explain findings and offer recommendations to address client needs. Know When to Pivot – Life throws us curveballs. Consider 2020, for example. Whether you must pivot for survival or simply need to take things in a new direction, knowing when to pivot and how to explain it to your employees is a leadership skill inherent for this new normal. Be Approachable – With open door policies moved online, leaders will want to determine the best way to recreate opportunities for employees that need to talk outside the daily or weekly staff meeting. Having insight into how your team works best, can help you guide them toward success. Programs to know and experience to have often include the technical knowledge you’ll need to ensure your client makes the most informed decisions.  ‘Smart Cities’ of the Future At the beginning of 2020, as the coronavirus came to call, someone joked that in 2020 we’d hoped to have flying cars and smart cities of the future, but instead were being taught how to wash our hands. Perhaps they weren’t far off on the smart cities quip as both Houston, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina are on the cutting edge of creating these smart cities. Things like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), LinkedIn Learning, even the Entrepreneur Store offers classes and bundles in everything from computer language learning such as C++, R, and Python to Digital Marketing and Graphic Design. But, learning these things and more on a Microsoft campus can catapult students into more jobs and helps guide cities in smart power grids, smart busses, autonomous cars, and the list goes on. Experience in a design agency who works within both the B2C and the B2B verticals helps to expand opportunities exponentially. Remote working opportunities have opened up worlds of collaboration, teamwork, and focus on the next steps into the future. Whether you’re interested in a remote working leadership role in the beachy Carolinas or looking for your first or next role in Big Data, Web Analytics, Marketing & Insight, Life Science Analytics, and more, check out our current vacancies or contact one of our recruitment consultants to learn more.   For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.   For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.  

Career Priorities Are Shifting For The US Data & Analytics Market Place

Positions in Data & Analytics are highly sought after in the US. With a widening talent pool due to the rise of flexible working, shifting skillsets and requirements for more professionals working in data and tech, the sector continues to experience unprecedented growth; regardless of the global pandemic pulling at the very core of the business community. For candidates, the Data & Analytics job market will be more active than ever. In our most recent US Data & Analytics Salary Guide, this was clearly identified. In fact, post-COVID, more respondents were either actively seeking, or willing to move for, a new role than they were in 2019. As businesses look to streamline existing processes and establish new ones, they are more reliant on Data professionals than ever before. Yet, candidates in this market have re-evaluated their needs and the incentives they value, shifting their priorities in the wake of COVID-19. With the impact of COVID-19 felt in almost every part of our day-to-day lives, it wasn’t long until conversation turned to what ‘the new normal’ would look like once the worst of the pandemic had passed. However, for those in the Data & Analytics space, the new normal wasn’t as new as first thought - it had been gradually establishing itself over the past few years. When seeking a new role, respondents prioritized career progression over salary increases, as well as an emphasis on job security and working for a stable and growing business. The needs of the multi-generational workforce in a post-COVID world has never been more dynamic than it is today. It was evidenced that financial ambitions have decreased slightly as a result of the pandemic. Interestingly, ‘a more competitive salary’ was the top reason for seeking a new role. Post-COVID, not only do respondents seek career progression over a salary increase, they also put a significantly greater emphasis on job security and the need to join a stable and growing business.  Specifically, for Data Engineers in the current market space, 80 per cent of professionals would leave their role if the right opportunity came up. This falls in parallel to digital analytics experts, of which 82 per cent would leave their role if the right opportunity came up. This is perhaps unsurprising as the full economic impact of the pandemic has yet to be established. Attracting the best hire for your business is going to be one of the core challenges of our time. Period. The focus for American organizations needs to be on hiring for the needs of tomorrow, rather than for the demands of today. A forward-thinking business will have the critical vision needed in order to keep pace with the market in its current state. Data professionals are in the driving seat; that’s a certainty. Their holistic skillset, understanding and application of core technologies such as SQL, Python, AWS, Kubernetes and Spark position them well when seeking to secure their next role. It is up to organizations to maintain their momentum as we acknowledge that for Data & Analytics, continuing on the trajectory of growth in the ‘new normal’ is something very few outside of this space saw coming. If you're looking for a new opportunity in the world of Data & Analytics or to expand your Data team, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more: For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.    For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.  

Navigating the New Normal Now and In the Future

At the beginning of every year and particularly the start of a new decade, we often find ourselves reassessing our priorities. Though this year was no different, it does have the twist of a pandemic. Businesses and individuals were forced to pivot toward a new normal.  Together, we’ve moved quickly and one thing this year’s Salary Guide has shown us is that priorities have changed. In previous years, focus was on higher salaries and it was expected to stay in a position only two or three years before moving on to the next job. But this year, stability is the name of the game. And so, priorities shift. Candidates now want to stay in a role that could lead to career progression.   What’s Changed?  In the Data & Analytics industry, flexible working options have steadily increased, though it was already a way of life for many. Add into the mix, the increased need to work from home for employee safety or in controlled environments for those whose role did not allow for remote working such as those in the life sciences.  Financial considerations were no longer top dog in hiring and retaining top talent. Longevity, career progression, and good management are highly desired. When everyone is online and flexible working options are the new normal, it’s important to have strong leadership.  Four Future Changes to Come   With the world online, working, and learning from home, bandwidth has become a non-renewable resource. Too much traffic. Too many people online could cause issues particularly during prime working and learning hours. Though with everything online, what does it mean to have prime hours now?  Setting Priorities – Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should lock yourself in your office for hours on end. Set aside time for food, family, and fun. Elevate the Home Office - Larger, more stable devices may see a resurgence. The home office is truly just that with the standard desktop and monitor to more easily see information. For those in many industries, two screens really help set the tone. Flexible Shopping Options are Here to Stay – When you’re working and learning from home, time is of the essence. The benefits of delivery, pick-up, and even some more expanded food centers could change the way we eat and gather. Retail is being redesigned for the new normal.Logistics of Social Distancing meet Machine Learning – As we focus on social distancing, mobile applications may shift toward a more logistics focused future using crowdsourcing and Big Data. From contact tracing to food buying, it will be important to have technologies that can keep up with people at all hours of the day and night to deliver goods and services.  In our recently released 2020 Salary Guide we discuss each specialism, what’s working and what isn’t. And how businesses can hire and retain top talent to keep their projects on track and their businesses running smoothly. If you’re interested in Data and Technology, Risk or Digital Analytics, Life Sciences Analytics, Marketing and Insight, Data Science, or Computer Vision, take a look at our current vacancies. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with one of our expert consultants. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.    For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.  

How Digital Analytics & Marketing Help Shape E-Commerce

Since the days of store window displays, the shopping experience has been just that; an experience. So, what happens when you want to recreate the visceral and emotional experience of shopping from within the confines of a computer screen, smartphone, or tablet? Enter Digital and Marketing Analytics. According to a recent report by Adobe, e-commerce sales have seen a 77% jump year-over-year which at any other time in history should have taken 4 to 6 years. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped to escalate and drive these numbers leaving some businesses scrambling and others raking it in. So, what’s the difference? Data professionals. The Role of Data in E-Commerce Whether you buy online and pick up in store or have a product delivered to your door, the role of shopping has irrevocably changed. Ensuring consumers get the personalized experience they’re used to from the days of brick-and-mortar stores, retail stores have turned to Digital and Marketing Analytics to give their customers the shopping experience they’re used to within a different format. Professionals within the UI/UX Design vertical are particularly sought after. Buying habits are changing and competition is fierce. So, how does Data affect e-commerce? Here are 3 examples: Know Your Customer. No longer a lamented visage from yesteryear, knowing your customer is inherent to the survival of an online retailer.  Data professionals bring to life the customer through historical data, demographics, and creates products and services which elicit an emotional response to stop, look around, and buy. And if the cart gets abandoned, follow up email campaigns to jog the memory that you were here and were thinking about buying this or that item. Get Personal. Personalize shopping has evolved into the personal shopping experience. What made someone buy a product during their last visit? Dynamic presentation and emotion-driven verbiage can certainly contribute.  When an online retailer knows what the buyer wants or needs and presents it in a way that resonates. This is the personalization once the domain of sales clerks.  From the Data you enter at checkout to the social media platforms and search engines with information like what you’re looking for, where you’re located, your purchase history and more can sometimes leave the personalized experience out in the cold. Bridging the old personalization with the new is the key ingredient for successful online retailers. Sell Where Your Consumers are Buying. If your customers are on Facebook looking for a product or service, sell to them where they’re looking. Though reviews are still important, even more prevalent is the range of social influencers to help buyers make decisions. Enter social commerce. Layout, design, Data gathering, collecting, and analyzing all have a slightly different flavor within this construct.  Data Professionals in Demand Within the Digital Analytics and Marketing specialism are a variety of Data professionals in demand as retailers are forced online. Businesses need E-Commerce Analysts to help present the new normal for the online retailer. As buy online and pick up in store convenience increases as well as purchases made from devices such as your smartphone, there’s been a rise in demand for Web & Mobile Product Management as well. Digital Transformation is no longer at the doorstep of business, it has crossed the threshold. And rather than focus on one tool or another, the impetus is on the importance of having more than one tool at a candidate’s disposal. What candidates want has changed and evolved as well. Salary and bonuses have dwindled while the demand for experience and professional development have become rallying cries for finding and retaining top talent. For more information In our recently released 2020 Salary Guide we discuss each specialism. What’s working. What isn’t. And how businesses can hire and retain top talent to keep their projects on track and their businesses running smoothly. You can download your copy here.  If you’re interested in Data and Technology, Risk or Digital Analytics, Life Sciences Analytics, Advanced Analytics & Insight, Data Science, or Computer Vision, we invite you to check out our latest jobs. If you’d like to learn more, contact one of our expert consultants: For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.   For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.  

Recently Viewed jobs